Posts Tagged Amazon

The Beatles

I’ve never been a Beatles fanatic. I like a lot of their music, but I’ve never owned a single track. I’m not completely sure why this is, though I could go into each music-buying phase of my life and come up with reasons. Lately, the biggest reason is that I primarily purchase individual tracks and The Beatles weren’t sold that way. Until now.

As is presumably widely known, as of this past Tuesday, The Beatles has come to iTunes. I was happy that this had finely happened as I’ve been paying attention during the long process that led up to this moment. When The Beatles Box Set came out last September, I had fully expected it to be on iTunes as well. I was disappointed when that didn’t happen. Now, 14 months later, it has.

While I was tempted to purchase the box set last year, or at least put it on my wish list, the value just wasn’t strong enough for me. I really wanted to be able to pick-and-choose the songs I wanted. Now that I have that option, it’s somewhat comical how tempted I was to simply click the “BUY ALBUM” button for the entire box set. I resisted this impulse and I’m glad I did. It turns out that it would have been a mistake for several reasons.

First, it’s overpriced. The physical version, which has the technical advantage of higher quality (though I doubt I’d ever notice) along with the ease of having backups for the ripped music rather than having to burn backups of the downloaded music, is $20 cheaper.

Second, the mono versions of the songs are not included in the iTunes box set. In fact, they aren’t available at all on iTunes. I’m not going to go into the details, but many people strongly prefer the mono versions of the early Beatles songs over the stereo versions.

Third, and perhaps most significant, is that the whole reason I was waiting for The Beatles to be available digitally was so that I could buy just the songs I wanted. To give up that flexibility on impulse would be silly.

So, now what? Many readers may not be surprised that the answer involves a spreadsheet. I went through the entire song listing for the box set, by album, and rated each track as either “Yes”, “Maybe”, “Meh”, “No” or “Dup”. “Yes” means that I’d buy the song for iTunes $1.29 price. “Maybe” means that I wouldn’t buy the individual song, but I’d appreciate it on an album. “Meh” means that I don’t really care, but there is some chance that getting the song on an album and listening to it repeatedly would result in it growing on me. “No” is obvious and “Dup” means that the song was on an earlier album in what I think is a mostly similar version.

Building this spreadsheet took a while as it included listening to at least some portion of the 30-second preview for a majority of the songs. But it’s done. The rest is just math. Here’s the data:

Album Yes Maybe Meh No Dup
Magical Mystery Tour 7 2 2

Let It Be 5 5 2

A Hard Day’s Night 5 6 2

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 11 2

Yellow Submarine
3 8
Beatles For Sale 2 6 6

Help! 5 8 1

Please Please Me 6 2 5 1
Revolver 4 6 3 1
Rubber Soul 8 3 3

With The Beatles 4 7 3

Abbey Road 9 5 3

The Beatles (White Album) 5 15 10

Past Masters 9 14 5

The first thing that jumps out at me is that I clearly have a bias in favor of Sgt. Pepper. I have a theory that my father played this album a lot when I was at a particular age. Now, at $1.29 per “Yes” song and half price per “Maybe” song, the only albums that are definitely worth (to me) their (iTunes) cost are Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, with Rubber Soul being “close enough”. On the other hand, the entire collection comes close to being worthwhile. Switch to the $130 physical media price and it’s a done deal.


There’s still the issue of mono versus stereo. Investigating the mono version of the box set a bit further and it turns out that it doesn’t include Abbey Road or Let It Be. Instead, it includes both mono and stereo versions of Help! and Rubber Soul. I find this a bit odd, but what can you do? (Note that it’s also missing Yellow Submarine, though all of the songs are actually present on other albums, just not the musical score from the movie.)

Taking away my computed value of Abbey Road and Let It Be leaves the total just $13.50 short of Amazon’s price for the mono box set. Close enough, particularly including the fact that the mono versions aren’t available individually.

That’s it, then. Get the mono box set, plus Abbey Road, plus the 5 Let It Be songs I want. For the supremely curious, the 5 “Maybe” songs on Let It Be that I’ll be missing out on in order to save $6.54 are Two of Us, Dig a Pony, Maggie Mae, I’ve Got a Feeling, and For You Blue.

Of course, I really feel like I should leave the mono box set on my wish list until after Christmas. So, for now, I guess I’ll just buy Abbey Road for now. Oh, wait… would you look at that. Abbey Road and Let It Be are both available on Amazon for $7.99. That makes Let It Be worthwhile. I guess it’s Amazon all the way.

Thanks for nothing, Apple.


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New Laptop Table

I ordered a laptop table the other day and it arrived today. This is a table designed to extend over a chair (or bed) with a laptop. It can also tilt to improve the angle of the laptop.

Prior to this, I was using a combination of a lapdesk and a TV tray (floor-standing). The laptop was always on the lapdesk and the lapdesk was usually on the TV tray and then sometimes on my lap. When I was only casually using the laptop (reading a new email, perhaps), I would not bother putting it in my lap. However, I would often find myself leaving it on the TV tray even when I was typing or browsing for longer periods of time. This was not the least bit comfortable. On the other hand, even with the lapdesk between my lap and the laptop, my legs still got quite warm.

With the new laptop table, the situation is very much improved, though it is far from perfect. Keeping everything off of my lap is great, and the tilt provides a much better combination of typing and viewing angles. The problems are several. The arm is not long enough for my chair, so I cannot actually have the laptop directly in front of me. If I’m watching TV, this isn’t an issue as it would probably block my view of the television anyway. Of course, that is at least partly due to another problem — the table is height-adjustable, but the lowest selection is still too high. I guess the higher selections are for using a laptop while standing. I can get it lower than the lowest selection, but then the table rotates freely (which is actually how I’m using it now). When using one of the notched heights, the notch prevents the table from rotating. When using without a notch, and therefore “all the way down”, it doesn’t take much pressure on the tilted surface to cause it to rotate away from me. So far, it seems manageable though, and better than having the laptop too high.

Another issue is really the fault of my MacBook Pro. The screen simply doesn’t tilt back as far as I would like, which limits how far forward I can have the table tilted and still have a good angle for the screen. Moreover, if I decide to live with the screen tilted slightly toward me, the resistance of the laptop hinge is not quite strong enough and the force of gravity slowly (at first) causes the laptop lid to close. Oh, and it’s a good think I don’t use an external mouse as there’s simply no room for one with my 17″ laptop — I doubt there’s really room for one with a 15″ laptop either. If I placed the table on the other side of my chair (not at all feasible here) then I could use the secondary surface for the mouse, but I’m not sure how realistic that is. Without tilting the secondary surface (which does tilt), the mouse would be too high, and if it is tilted then the mouse would not stay in place.

For $73.44 (including shipping), I think it’s a pretty good table. Assembly was quite straight-forward. Amazon link: Mobile Laptop Desk (Mahogany/Silver) (30″ to 47″H x 32″W x 17″D)

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iTunes vs. Amazon

I bought myself an iPod Nano last November and the girls got new Nanos for Christmas (Brittney previously had the prior generation Nano, which has been handed “up” to Marci). I resisted such a purchase for myself for a long time because my Treo 755p works fine as a music player and, theoretically, as a video player as well. However, I’ve been going on runs without my Treo lately (which is a change) and thought that a Nano with an arm band would be a good running accessory.

Naturally, now that I have the Nano I use it for more than just running. Tivo Desktop Plus can be configured to automatically copy certain shows from my Tivo and convert them to iPod format. It’s pretty handy to have selected shows just show up on my iPod about a day after they air. I’ve also been listening to Podcasts in the car (I previously mentioned Coffee Break Spanish and I also listen to Clark Howard and 1Src).

Of course, I also listen to music. Prior to purchasing an iPod, I had Read the rest of this entry »

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